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NIAID launches influenza genome sequencing project

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), today announced a joint influenza genome sequencing project with several scientific partners. The project will help researchers understand how flu viruses evolve, spread and cause disease. According to its leaders, it has the potential to minimize the impact of annual flu outbreaks and to improve scientific knowledge of the emergence of pandemic flu viruses.

NIAID's collaborators include the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) of the NIH National Library of Medicine; the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN; the Wadsworth Center of the New York State Department of Health in Troy, NY; the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington, DC; and The Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, MD.

The sequencing effort, to be conducted in part by the NIAID Microbial Sequencing Center at TIGR, will reveal complete genetic blueprints of thousands of known human and avian influenza viruses. NIAID will rapidly make this sequence information publicly available through GenBank, an international, searchable online database funded by NIH, and the NIAID Bioinformatics Resource Center, a Web-accessible collection of genetic sequence information accompanied by data analysis tools.

"Influenza viruses present formidable scientific and public health challenges because they undergo continual genetic changes that enable them to evade the body's immune response and sometimes become more virulent," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "This project not only provides a valuable resource for current influenza researchers, it also will attract investigators from other fields. We anticipate that these data will be used to recognize patterns of genetic changes and illuminate important questions such as how avian influenza viruses adapt to infect huma
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Contact: NIAID Press Office
niaidnews@niaid.nih.gov
301-402-1663
NIH/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
15-Nov-2004


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